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“Work Out Your Own Salvation with Fear and Trembling”

For the 40 years that I have been a Christian, I have heard that verse (Philippians 2:12). Until the last year, it always troubled me. Since Christ has paid the full pardon for my sin, and therefore, justified me before God, what is there left for me to “work“ out? Indeed, if I think that I can contribute to my own justification before God, then I have added to Christ’s work, a certain transgression of his perfect sacrifice (Ephesians 2:8-9).

So, what does the verse mean. As I said in another place, salvation has three tenses: I have been saved (justification), I am being saved (sanctification), and I will be saved (heaven or glorification). Justification is once for all. Jesus Christ did pay the full redemption for my sins. Heaven and glorification are future.

“Work our your own salvation with fear and trembling” is now -- sanctification. We work out our sanctification. The “work” is important, as this verse presents it. God created the heavens and the earth. That is, six days that He “worked,” and then He rested. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work,” says the 4th Commandment (Exodus 20:8), and then we rest on Sunday. As God “worked,” we are to work -- labor -- hard work.

“With fear and trembling” adds to this effort. It is a serious work that we undertake. It is an arduous work that we undertake. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10). We have work to do until we die and enter heaven (our rest at the end of the “week.”

What is the most important work in sanctification? I believe that it is to “renew our minds” (Romans 12:2). This verse says that we will be “transformed” by this process. You want to know the power of this word? “Transformed” is the same word in English as “metamorphosis.” But, this English word is not as powerful as the New Testament Greek. The only other places in the New Testament where this word is used is the scene of Christ’s “transfiguration” (Matthew 17:12) and in heaven where we will be “transformed” into the glorious image of Christ (II Corinthians 3:18).

What more powerful word can be used to describe the primary work that we are “to work out with fear and trembling.” For, if we do not know the Bible, how can we know what the “perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2, again) is for us to do?

Fellow Christians, if you learn all that is on this website, you will be light years ahead of other Christians, as you “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” and in the process, transform yourself, your family, your church, and your culture. May God bless your work for His Kingdom.


 

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